Visiting home can provoke a stream of nostalgia: parks where you used to play as a child, shops you were once dragged around by a parent, friends old houses where laughs and smiles were shared and landmarks that never change but watch the area around them grow and shift. Liverpool is certainly one of these places. Now I live in London, I can truly appreciate how far the city has come to retaking its title as a powerful, vibrant global city whose name incites an impressed raising of eyebrows, not a tittering of mocking laughter.
I grew up in Rock Ferry, a quaint little hamlet (deprived ghetto) across the River Mersey. I spent many an afternoon rocking along in its underground trains with my Mummy, crossing from the Wirral under the River Mersey and then gawping at Liverpool’s grand buildings as we emerged from the subterranean gloom. To see Liverpool as an adult is extremely special, as every person I meet and talk to about the New Liverpool says they remember the city of my childhood and are so grateful for the clean, safe and friendly place it has now become.
Liverpool’s glittering creative scene, which I was a giddy member of before I came to London, is what brought me back home to the Mersey this time round. My friends, the Costumologists, Maria and Fran, are two lovely ladies I met way back in 2011, after my eight year stint in Wigan, which was ended when I returned to the Wirral on Hallowe’en 2010. I took my first ever fur coat, a rather worn-out 1930’s musquash, bought for me by my auntie for Christmas, to be repaired, my rippling masculine physique obviously too large for the coat to handle! They had a small studio on Renshaw Street, which is just left of Liverpool’s Chinatown and right of the city’s main shopping area. It’s always strange to think back to how you saw the world when you were younger: I saw two ladies in their mid 20s, impossibly cool, bohemian and people I definitely wanted to get to know. Alas, we had a brief chat about backgrounds, Fran is from Yorkshire, Maria from the Wirral (me too! no way!) and a joke about how absurdly fabulous I looked in the coat and off I went, walking through Liverpool’s streets, unaware of the bemused glances I was receiving. I left the shop thinking, “that would be such a cool crowd to get to know – it must be super exclusive. I’d never be cool enough for them!” and a whole year passed without seeing my future gal pals again.
Lovely Rachel a.k.a. the artist formerly known as Mimi Amore was such a wonderful character to meet. She was the person who advised me on how to apply for a volunteering position at Oxfam in March 2012 and she was the one who introduced me to the bubbly, jubbly, wubbly creative scene all centred around The Kazimier, Liverpool’s own bohemian super (in soul) club. Here, I also met Liv, and her and Rachel are now two dear friends of mine, who invited me to a fund-raising charity show, for which I leapt at the opportunity to strut my 19 year old self down the runway.
An after-party followed and I was shaking my ass till dawn with an array of sparkly fun-time folk, then invited me to more events and then more events, most centred around The Kazimier, a quirky nightclub like no other than has an exceptionally warm, cuddly place in my heart until eventually I’d met the whole gang!
As I grew and my spiritual, intellectual and sartorial confidence grew, I began to meet more and more people and one day in late spring 2013, Rachel invited me to a party in The Kazimier called Krunk Fiesta – La Tomatina. With a bemused look, I accepted her invitation and once I got there, eyebrows were stuck to my hairline and my jaw to my bellybutton as I looked around at the crowd of flamboyantly dressed, smiling, warm and spiritually free individuals. Rachel asked me “Is this your first Kaz experience?” and it was then that I realised that I wasn’t weird for wanting to dress, act, think and live how I wanted. There were other people out there, and many in that club, who wanted the same thing. A whole summer of love passed, meeting treasures such as Howard, Frankie, Dan, Noemie, Mina (the list will go on, but do forgive my forgetful/lazy brain) and one glitter-filled, disco-infused evening at The Kaz brought me back to Maria and Fran, where we had a drunk but loving reunion. I remember them being very impressed that I had plans to move to down DAT LUNDUN, but like all good Northern mother figures, they warned me to watch out for the things that bite in the night in the capital!
Two years have passed since then and coming home fills me with an indescribable joy – Liverpool is a place where walking down just one street means you’ll see half the people you’ve ever socialised with and if you stand on the pavement for five minutes you’ll meet the rest. Such was the case this latest visit, albeit short, which brings me to why I was there. I was performing at the Vogue Ball, an evening of competing vogue kings and queens, battling out in their teams of dance schools, all trying to out-do one another with a splash of decadent costumes, complex choreography and oodles of Scouse sass. And our team was that of the House of Costumologists, championed by the House Mothers Fran and Maria and their House Children, the Sherbet Pimp and his two acolyte concubines who he kept under a tight leash of intoxicating, sugary powder and emotional power play.